What Drives Millennials?

What Drives Millennials

Companies should attract the emerging workforce with career development, not perks.

By Marisa Brown

Millennials have an unwarranted reputation in the workforce as short-term employees always looking for a better opportunity and seeking crazy workplace perks. Their resume may reveal a “job-hopping” mentality, but they aren’t completely to blame. These workers, born between 1980 and 1995, are merely responding to how organizations are treating them. It’s not that they want to leave their jobs, but organizations aren’t giving them compelling reasons to stay.

This is especially interesting in the supply chain management (SCM) workforce. In a recent APQC study, 676 SCM professionals age 22 and age 37 shared their likes and dislikes in their current job. By understanding what they’re thinking, organizations can respond to their needs and wants. Organizations must learn to attract millennials looking to leave other employers but also retain their existing millennial employees.

What Millennials Like About Their Jobs

In examining the top 10 areas appealing to millennials in their supply chain positions, the top three reveal they like the work, like to be challenged, and like their coworkers (Figure 1). Many workers entered the field for this reason. As one participant described, “I wanted to work in a moving and challenging environment, combining technical as well as managerial skills.” Eighty-four percent of them have a commitment to SCM and plan to work in the field five years from now. “Supply chain brings a lot of variety and complexity to solve, which is intellectually very satisfying,” one SCM millennial said.

Relationships with colleagues is another top “like” for these SCM millennials. “Peers/colleagues” is actually the top source these workers use to keep up to date on supply chain strategies and solutions versus technology like podcasts, which falls 10 spots below. While managers may think millennials prefer working independently or in a virtual environment, these findings reveal the importance of people.

Another big takeaway for organizations is the importance of career development to these SCM professionals. In fact, 87 percent share that working in the supply chain field will help their personal growth and development. “Growth and opportunity is what attracted me to this field,” said one SCM millennial. While a certain amount of employee perks are necessary to attract and retain these millennials, the real long-term drivers relate to career training. Although this approach generally costs more, it pays off in the end.

What Do You Like About Your Current Job?

Milennial jobs What do you like about your current job

Some of the areas ranking in the bottom of this list include travel opportunities, recognition from peers, relationships with subordinates, workload, tuition reimbursement and skills to help nonprofits. While these are on the list and hold importance, they aren’t truly important to what they are seeking.

What Millennials Dislike About Their Jobs

When looking at the top 10 things millennials dislike about their jobs, the top three have a common theme (Figure 2). Millennials in the SCM field are most frustrated with areas that hold them back in terms of their success: lack of career path, resources/technology, as well as clearly defined work processes. This generation of workers wants to perform well now and get what they need to continue in their profession. “Working in supply chain offers lots of learning opportunities every day. It also helps build a professional character,” according to one millennial respondent. So organizations need to ensure these opportunities continue.

This generation of workers is also frustrated with lack of training and ineffective leadership. While 90 percent report they have received training, less than one-third have received leadership training (28 percent) or manager training (21 percent). Once again, this type of knowledge is critical to help them succeed in their future roles.

What Is Most Challenging or Frustrating Aspect of Your Job?

Milennials what do you dislike about your hjob

Some of the areas ranking in the bottom of this list include sub-par benefits, velocity of change in business today, inability to advocate for yourself, lack of opportunity to work independently, relationships with colleagues and too much autonomy.

How Employers Can Respond to Millennials

Data from this survey reveal several opportunities employers can act on to ensure they create a working environment conducive to the millennial worker.

• Offer Development Opportunities. Millennials are motivated to grow, whether it’s at their current organization or a new one. In response, employers can create an environment to attract and retain millennial supply chain workers. This includes providing continuous opportunities for development such as formal training, conference attendance, or stretch assignments. Organizations need to consider the appropriate development to offer to help millennials reach the next step on their career path. What skills are needed, for example, to help a worker move from inventory management to design and planning in two years.

• Provide Mentoring. Opportunities for mentoring are ideal as well, since one of millennials’ big “likes” is relationships with colleagues. Advancement opportunities also need to be communicated to millennials to show what exists, how to attain them, and when they can be expected. These workers want a solid career that will last, over perks such as free food or foosball in the breakroom.

• Define Processes. Organizations also can get millennials involved in defining “best practice” work processes and building a business case for needed resources. These workers are frustrated with lack of clearly defined work processes, according to APQC’s millennial survey. In fact, 33 percent of respondents rank this as a top frustration. This not only helps the employer provide millennials with exactly what they want but also offers them a project with higher level of responsibility.

• Ensure Fair Compensation. Compensation is one more area organizations can examine. While it’s not a top “like” or “dislike” among millennial workers, it’s also not low on the list, either. Fair, market-competitive compensation matters but it’s not sufficient on its own for attracting, engaging, and retaining millennials in supply chain. This generation wants meaning and a sense of purpose. Fortunately, supply chain can provide that more than some other professions. In fact, 81 percent of millennials believe they can make a difference in the field.

For more information, head online to APQC’s Knowledge Base for a free overview of this millennial talent study or the full report.

Marisa Brown is senior principal research lead, supply chain management at APQC, an authority in benchmarking, best practices, process and performance improvement, and knowledge management. APQC’s unique structure as a member-based nonprofit makes it a differentiator in the marketplace. APQC partners with more than 500 member organizations worldwide in all industries. With more than 40 years of experience, APQC remains a leader in transforming organizations. Visit us at www.apqc.org, and learn how you can make best practices your practices. 

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